Repost-Ah, Look At All The Lonely People-‘Jeff Koons Is Back’ Via Vanity Fair

Full piece here.

-Koons gets the Annie Leibovitz treatment (an unfortunate photo at the link).

-This is not a commentary on Koons’ art, some of which I like well enough, it’s a much worse beast: Another attempt at cultural criticism.

In the talk around Koons, what often stands-out to me is how much talk there is about Koons himself, and the search for meaning in all that talk. The concept of artist-as-individual is nothing new: An isolated Self, quite apart from society, mining his interior life and experiences in order to represent beauty, meaning, and some attempt at expressing universal truths through his work and craft. This is unsurprisingly part of what all artists do, and the extreme individuality of this process is what Western artists somewhat consciously have been doing for a few centuries now, from musicians to writers to sculptors, from romanticism to modernism to post-modernism and beyond.

The fact that Koons is doing this with such relentless self-promotion and while also courting celebrity is arguably a much more ‘modern’ phenomenon. A certain amount of melliflous, abstract bullshit seems part of the Koons’ game, as if you’d walked onto a used-art lot as Koons tours you around, asking what’s-it-gonna-take-to-get-you-into-one-of-his-pieces, yet with soothing, professional demeanor, offering an invitation to return a part of of your Self to you and make you whole again within the work produced by his Self. Jeff Koons is a brand.

Perhaps this is what it takes these days to make a living by schmoozing with wealthy art-buyers, but in some ways, it has a distinctly American feel as well. High and low culture mix in a highly commercial, utilitarian way. The urge to merge abstract art and the avant-garde with mass, pop-culture is expressed. Fame and meta-critiques on fame, celebrity, money, the Self amplified for all the other Selfs to see has implications for much of our culture, I suspect.

As to establishing Koons’ bona fides enough to merit attention by Vanity Fair…here are a few quotes from the piece:

“Jeff is the Warhol of his time,” proclaims Adam Weinberg, the Whitney’s director.

Everyone’s getting in on the bullshit!

‘The reference to Curtis ties Koons to the last true avant-garde—a pedigree the artist likes. Curtis, who refused to be called a drag queen, was a pioneer of the L.G.B.T. movement and, like Candy Darling, was made famous by Warhol’

You need the cultural legitimacy of an L.G.B.T. blessing to be truly avant-garde these days.

‘What Warhol and Koons do have in common, though, is an uncanny ability to nail an image or an object so that it catches the Zeitgeist.’

Partially true, perhaps, but what if the Zeitgeist is nothing but a leafy suburb full of good schools, intact families, and moderate lives? Isn’t this why some youngish people (ahem…many hipsters) often leave their small towns and suburbs looking for meaning, group membership and purpose in what can end-up vaguely collectivist and vaguely individualist lives in cities?

Everyone’s an artist, these days.

Establishing modernist credentials for the brand:

‘Koons’s job at MoMA gave him the opportunity to immerse himself in the history of modernism, in particular the ideas of Marcel Duchamp, who changed art history by showing how everyday objects, or “readymades,” could be elevated into the realm of art, depending on context. Duchamp’s theories were a revelation to Koons.’

Piketty and Brecht in the same paragraph:

‘Barbara Kruger, the artist whose unsentimental pronouncements have been cutting to the chase about the art world for decades, says “Oh boy” when I call to discuss Koons, whom she has known since they both were starting out in New York. She needed to think about it and later wrote me: “Jeff is like the man who fell to earth, who, in this grotesque time of art flippage and speculative mania, is either the icing on the cake or some kind of Piketty-esque harbinger of the return of Brecht’s ‘making strange.’

And finally, while I have no quarrel with neurosicence, pop-neuroscience is often a repository for the modern search for legitimate experiences and theories of the Self:

‘Dr. Eric R. Kandel, a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, was so impressed with the show that he e-mailed Koons afterward. I asked Kandel why. He explained, “I have been interested in the ‘beholder’s share,’ an idea that came from the Viennese art historian Alois Riegl. It involves the concept that when a painter paints a painting or a sculptor makes a sculpture it is not complete unless a beholder, a viewer, responds to it.”

Kandel adds, “When you looked at the sculptures you saw yourself embedded in the gazing balls. Artists sometimes put mirrors in works, but they don’t design the work so that you find yourself in the arms or chest of a statue, which is what Jeff did.’

Go and find your Self and be made whole, dear reader, within Jeff Koons’ work and the Jeff Koons brand, and try and tell the dancer from the dance.

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Koons’ Made In Heaven only amplifies that sound, blurring the line between art and porn, private experience and public show, innocence (so easily corrupted) and naive, narcissistic indulgence.

I suspect Made In Heaven explores previous themes of high and low that were already emerging in his kitsch work, fleshed out in pieces like Michael Jackson And Bubbles, Winter Bears and on this site: ‘St John The Baptist’.

Some quotes from Koons:

‘This type of dislocated imagery is what motivates people. They’re amused by it, but they have a lot of guilt and shame that they respond to it. I was trying to remove that guilt and shame.’

Another quote which highlights an idea of some import to the nation:

Coming from a suburban, middle-class background, as he did, he felt that there was something, if not dignified, at least, too easily discarded about this kind of imagery and this kind of sentiment.’

Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus. A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: WomanGoethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersSome Quotes From Kant And A Visual Exercise

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

 

Pop Art!

The Critic Laughs, by Hamilton:

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Do you long for the days of unabashed American consumerism?  Are you nostalgic for nights lit only by a soft, neon glow on the underbellies of clouds? Return to a time when America broadcast its brash, unironic call to the heavens.

Jay Z And Marina Abramovic Via Twitter: A Pop-Rap Art Marketing Performaganza

Vine here.

Performance artist Marina Ambramovic and Jay-Z are together at last during a 6-hour lip sync performance-art piece to promote Mr Z’s new album.  Feel the love.

Still, it’s probably more engaging than Tilda Swinton in a box.

Maybe Jeff Koons got there first, where marketing, money, and branding met pop art:  A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

‘I think that Warhol, as radical as he seems, still very much prized the idea of originality at the core of his working process, and it’s hard not to see him as being a very original artist in that sense.  The idea of Koons rejecting all originality, I think, is central to understanding what his work was about.’

and:

‘The way Andy predicted celebrity, Jeff predicted branding.’

Here’s Robert Hughes tearing into a modern art collector, as we need the voice of some art traditionalists around here to make sense of this madness:

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***The day that Damien Hirst put up his works, selling them for $111 million dollars, the market crashed.

Related On This Site:   A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

From Bloggingheads: Shakespeare and The Second Law Of ThermodynamicsStanley Fish At The NY Times Blog: ‘The Last Professors: The Corporate Professors And The Fate Of The Humanities’From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’,,

Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

See the comments Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was SuccessfulUpdate And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct

The end of the ‘greatness’ model?: From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story

A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

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Koons’ site here.  Part 1 of a 5-part documentary above.

I often find myself reacting to modern art and pop art, like many people, with my bullshit detector continually sounding at a low buzz.  Are these great artists?  What has happened at the intersection between art, money, and media in the ‘modern’ world?  Is there any ‘there’ there?

Koons’ Made In Heaven only amplifies that sound, blurring the line between art and porn, private experience and public show, innocence (so easily corrupted) and naive, narcissistic indulgence.

I suspect Made In Heaven explores previous themes of high and low that were already emerging in his kitsch work, fleshed out in pieces like Michael Jackson And Bubbles, Winter Bears and on this site: ‘St John The Baptist’.

Modern Art by gps1941.

Excellent photo found here…gps1941 photostream here. More on the original St. John The Baptist here.

This is kitsch par excellence, exquisitely rendered.  I admit that I can still break out into laughter while staring at it, admiring Koons’ ability to use his materials to realize a very particular concept, and to execute that concept and evoke what might even be a particular emotion in onlookers.  The quality and finish of these pieces is high and Koons works in various materials, including porcelin, metal, wood, and mixed media.  Like Warhol, he’s set up a studio with workers churning out his art.   There is no doubt some genuine artistic ability there, creative imagination, vision, and devotion to his craft.

Great art?

On what he was trying to achieve:

‘This type of dislocated imagery is what motivates people. They’re amused by it, but they have a lot of guilt and shame that they respond to it.  I was trying to remove that guilt and shame.’

Another quote which highlights an idea of some import to the nation:

Coming from a suburban, middle-class background, as he did, he felt that there was something, if not dignified, at least, too easily discarded about this kind of imagery and this kind of sentiment.’

In a way, Koons could be seen as quintessentially American, taking the country, its lack of refinement as an artist might see it, its marketing and advertising, the products of its egalitarian spirit and consumer culture into his embrace.  By recalling his own experiences and trying to provide deeper context (and by constantly self-promoting), he certainly has a commitment to America. This raises questions of perpetual interest to those who see their duty in making, criticizing, curating, buying and enjoying art. It also coincides with a larger movement.

From the video:

‘I think that Warhol, as radical as he seems, still very much prized the idea of originality at the core of his working process, and it’s hard not to see him as being a very original artist in that sense.  The idea of Koons rejecting all originality, I think, is central to understanding what his work was about.’

and:

‘The way Andy predicted celebrity, Jeff predicted branding.’

I don’t doubt for a second there’s a bright, aesthetically inclined teenager out there laying under the illuminating glow of a Thomas Kinkade signed print.

As posted before, Camille Paglia is a child of the 60’s, wants better art education, and is sympathetic to themes found on this blog:

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Such artistic impulses also have to deal the rest of America’s bustle and mass culture.  Some of our best-known exports to the world are made by groups of us here at home, organized in certain ways.  Examples abound, from Hollywood movies to McDonalds and Starbucks to our politics to Mars exploration, but we Americans have a real talent for this kind of thing, and Koons seems to be trying to hold up a mirror to our desires and the culture.  Naturally, this creates tension between the individual and the society, what kind of society we have, and what kind of society we ought to have.

Here’s another quote from the video:

‘Koons like to fill things, blow them up, and make his own breath last forever.  He’s interested in eternity, in immortality.’

That’s probably worth thinking about.

***Robert Hughes wrote a review for Time entitled the “Princeling Of Kitsch.”

***The day that Damien Hirst put up his works, selling them for $111 million dollars, the market crashed.

Related On This Site:  Martha Nussbaum wants to take religion out of the laws, and also has ideas about shame and disgust.  I’m not necessarily convinced by the type of secular moral thinking she wants to guide society.  From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”

Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: Woman… Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersSome Quotes From Kant And A Visual Exercise

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’